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Prince Once Gave Louisville's Western Library $12,000

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Prince died on Thursday, but a small part of his legacy will live on in a library on 10th Street in Louisville.

In 2001 the singer, producer and cultural icon cut a $12,000 check to Louisville Free Public LIbrary's Western branch for "community building" services, according to Paul Burns, a spokesman for the library.

Prince died Thursday at his home in Minnesota.

"He was very generous," Burns said.

Prince didn't say why he was making the contribution -- which he made through his charity, Love 4 One Another -- Burns said.

“My understanding is he did it because of the historic significance of the library," he said. "I don’t know how he learned about it,” Burns said.

The Western Branch Library was the first full-service free public library in the nation open to African-Americans -- and staffed entirely by African-Americans. It opened in 1905 on West Chestnut Street as the Western Colored Library.

Three years later, the Carnegie Library opened at the current site of the Western Library.

The Western Library features archives of African-American literary magnets Joseph S. Cotter Sr. and the Rev. Thomas F. Blue, among other collections.

Haven Harrington, president of the Russell Neighborhood Association in Louisville and former employee of the Western Library, noted the donation on his Facebook page Thursday.

In an interview he said the donation from Prince was a boon to the library.

"We used that money for years."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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